a State has a reasonably conceived plan for periodic readjustment of legislative representation. While we do not intend to indicate that decennial reapportionment is a constitutional requisite, compliance with such an approach would clearly meet the minimal requirements for maintaining a reasonably current scheme of legislative representation. And we do not mean to intimate that more frequent reapportionment would not be constitutionally permissible or practicably desirable. But if reapportionment were accomplished with less frequency, it would assuredly be constitutionally suspect.
We should be clear about what is not involved in these cases. The statutory time frame was not adopted to protect incumbents for a period after the census figures become available. In the past, census data have been available for reapportionment for the first general election after the census was taken. See Skolnick v. Chicago, 415 F.2d 1291 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 954, 25 L. Ed. 2d 138, 90 S. Ct. 984 (1970), and Cousins v. City Council of Chicago, 466 F.2d 830 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 893, 34 L. Ed. 2d 151, 93 S. Ct. 85 (1972). For reasons which have been previously described, those figures were not available in time for an adjustment of ward boundaries prior to the March 1991 election. Nor are we talking about extraordinarily long terms. Aldermen serve for four years, well within the usual terms of office. From the time that the census figures were available to the end of their term is not much more than the 28 months an appointed alderman may serve under state law. See Lynch v. Illinois State Bd. of Elections, 682 F.2d 93 (7th Cir. 1982). Clearly, also, decennial reapportionment necessarily means that terms of office under an old but then valid map will extend into the period when updated census figures are available, since terms necessarily extend to the first general election pursuant to a new map. That terms for some offices are longer than terms for others is a truism and, indeed, one justification of bicameral legislatures. See Reynolds, 377 U.S. at 577. Plaintiffs' contentions, if adopted, would appear to effectively ban any elections during the year or so preceding regularly scheduled redistricting.
We are not dealing with an unreasonably delayed reapportionment procedure, as in Flateau v. Anderson, 537 F.Supp. 257 (S.D. N.Y. 1982), which extends the life of an old map through a general election held well after an intervening census. Further, we recognize that one remedy for elections held pursuant to a map defective in its inception is a shortened term followed by special elections, Skolnick v. Illinois State Electoral Bd., 307 F.Supp. 691, 697 (N.D. Ill. 1969), but no one contends that the map that finally emerged in 1985 was in any way then vulnerable to attack.
We do not mean to suggest that the present map can be used for another general election in the event that no reapportionment is approved by referendum, or the plan approved by the voters violates the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. See Lucas v. Forty-Fourth General Assembly, 377 U.S. 713, 736-737, 12 L. Ed. 2d 632, 84 S. Ct. 1459 (1964). We recognize, however, that "legislative reapportionment is primarily a matter for legislative consideration and determination, and that judicial relief becomes appropriate only when a legislature fails to reapportion according to federal constitutional requisites in a timely fashion after having had an adequate opportunity to do so," Reynolds, supra, at 586, and we believe that the Illinois statutory scheme is a rationally conceived plan, tied to the decennial census, to accomplish the necessary periodic adjustment.
JAMES B. MORAN
Chief Judge, United States District Court
December 27, 1991.
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